Warbirds in my Workshop

David Glen BSc (Hons) MSc, Model Maker, Journalist and Author

Formerly Spitfire in my Workshop

Fitting out the port upper sidewall

Friday, 21st August, 2015

When building my first Spitfire I fitted out the upper cockpit sidewalls in situ; this time I decided to complete all detailed work and painting prior to installation, thereby making access a lot easier.  Followers of this blog will recall that I described the basic structural work back in June this year.


The port upper sidewall is noticeably the most sparsely adorned part of the entire cockpit, its furnishings comprising of no more than an adjustable panel light, the wedge bracket for the remote gun camera indicator and the type 5003 radio channel controller.


To take the latter first: A scrap of waste casting resin makes the body of the unit, which is faced front and top with 10 thou litho plate. By rounding off the resin edges the effect under paint becomes that of a folded, sheet metal box.  A piece of stock styrene strip embellished with five carefully paced holes speedily becomes the elongate channel indicator cover; and the protuberant transmit/receive switch is turned from alloy in the Mini Lathe.


A minor yet defining detail of selector push buttons is that they all have little cup-like dimples, which while comfortable for the finger tips pose a problem for the modeller, but one easily solved. Each button is made from a piece of alloy tube with a telescoping core of styrene ‘micro-rod’. The styrene is inserted and glued in place so that it terminates just below the top of the aluminium. Once sprayed with primer and painted a dull red the result is highly credible.


The entire controller unit together with its simple folded litho-plate mounting bracket was made in under a day.


There are two panel lights to include, one for the port side and one for starboard, and they differ only in the design of their attachment.  As shown in Photo 3 each fitting comprises of a turned grey plastic body (an old knitting needle), with a piece of aluminium tube to represent the cover. The cir-clip is easily made by pinching with square nose pliers a thin strip of litho plate around the shaft of a twist drill. I took the trouble to inset bulbs but they will probably never be seen!


Photo 5 clearly shows the starkly square gun camera indicator wedge plate – a feature so ridiculously simple to model that it requires no elucidation from me.


The obvious question that eagle-eyed readers will ask after scrutinising my photos is “where is the cockpit door”?  It’s a moot point! In order to ensure perfect alignment and continuity of the port upper cockpit wall with the rest of the fuselage, my plan is to fit the sidewall (and incipient door) as one piece. The entire exterior will then be laminated with 1/16 balsa sheet and sanded true to the contiguous fuselage frames that define the fuselage contours.  Only then will the door blank be ‘surgically’ removed and built and detailed as a separate assembly. That’s the plan; its execution may prove more easily described than performed!

Back to Spitfire Mk IX Diary

The radio channel controller is simplicity itself to model from casting resin and litho-plate, but the tiny drilled holes require very careful marking out.
The finished box which clearly shows the dimpled push buttons made as described in the text. The dry transfers are scavenged, not entirely successfully, from my P-51D project.
The controller unit is test fitted on its litho-plate mounting bracket, using two small pegs to ensure that it stays put.
The assembled port side panel light and its starboard side counterpart showing the three simple parts.
The completed sub assembly ready for installation. That part in lieu of the door will be removed later as described in the text. Note the electric cable, which is nicely represented by thin silicone rubber tube. I have described the making of cable clips elsewhere in this blog.
Mustang in my Workshop book cover

Mustang in my Workshop

A book to inspire, encourage and empower the enthusiastic model maker to scratch build a masterpiece.